Let it snow.

Got about a foot or so of snow yesterday.   These days it seems like a 'normal' snowfall like yesterday's is enough to virtually shut down the state.  When I was a kid, there's no way a storm like this would have caused the same general sense of emergency.  We're getting soft.   Every time snow is forecast, you'd think the blizzard of '78 was coming again.   The great unwashed loading their giant SUV's with milk, bread and ice melt.   Silly.  We should implement a mandatory 'winter term in Montreal', like national service.  Forced recalibration for the overcoddled.

Photo:  CCB's own Mike the Russian.
Coincidentally yesterday, one of our cafesupporters, CCB's own 'Mike the Russian' sent me this, his signature photo:  The perfect visual antidote to storm cancellations, politicians spinning their 'we're prepared for any conditions' sound bites, and the TV news media's incessant late breaking storm updates.

They all should just shut up and ski.

The best winter cross training when you can't ride?   Nordic skiing, if you ask me.

I got out a week ago with my 14 year old son.   Skating, gliding.  It was Tommy's first time on XC skis.  A difficult sport to learn...all technique.  We had a great time.  I really like the skating technique, even though I'm not really smooth, proficient or fast with it, but no matter... it's fun and gets the heart rate up.  Unfortunately, I don't get to Nordic ski as much as I'd like these days.. but when I do, I can't seem to get enough.  And the older I get, the more I love Nordic skiing.  Not just the skiing, the whole package:  The white solitude of the winter woods.  The air.  The silence.  No phones.  No idiots in cars to worry about.   Apres-ski saunas.  Fireplaces.  Hot drinks.  Hygge.

Pity we don't get much snow, or have groomed XC venues here in southern New England.

It's great training for cyclists I think...although I believe it's gone a little out of fashion at the highest level.  Pro teams used to make Nordic skiing a big part of winter training camps in the Alps.  Those 'stages' (staaghzz) as they call them in France started in the early '70's I believe.   You just don't hear about them doing it so much anymore.  Seems like it's all bike nowadays.   Or survival camps.  Or mountain bikes in the snow.

Times have changed.  Check out this photo of the LaRedoute Motobecane pro team back in the early '80's.  The apparel and gear (those old pre-skating ski days) looks so dated now.  Wool knicker socks, silly duckbilled K-Way caps.  Classic, eh?

Reminds me of my cyclist-skier reference from back then:  Joop Zoetemelk.  Joop was quite accomplished on the skinny boards.  In fact as a Tour de France winner, he was even invited to take part in the Dutch Nordic Ski Championships in 1980 to help generate more publicity for the event.  Nobody expected him to win, but he did win his class championship!

His teammate Maurice LeGuilloux was quoted in Miroir du Cyclisme:  "It was in 1973, and Andre Desvages took the whole Gitane team to Grenoble.  In the mornings we'd cross country ski, and then go downhill skiing in the afternoons.  For most of us, young cyclists of modest means, it was a real joy just to go and stay in the mountains.  I remember that Joop Zoetemelk was the most diligent of all of us.   Every morning, he'd go out with a backpack on, while we were still in our pyjamas.  And he'd come back four or five hours later.  It wasn't really painful to go out and ski with him:  It was impossible to follow him for more than one kilometer!"

We all know guys like Joop.  There's a few in every club.  That sinewy, seemingly ageless master who's up early, out the door, and trucking along for hours.  All year round.  Who eats and drinks sparingly, is rarely ill, and never seems to gain a pound.  Who is quiet, calm and modest.  Who eschews big hullabaloo and nightlife,  preferring quiet evenings at home or with close friends.  A diesel who can motor along like nobody's business all day long, and is almost impossible to drop.  A truly ageless athlete, and a true outdoorsman.

We had a guy like that in CCB way-back-when named Robye Lahlum - a local New England legend.   He'd put in more miles that anyone.  Robye came in 3rd in the 105 mile Maine International on his 40th birthday behind Louis Garneau back in 1980, beating guys half his age.  Mentally, that guy was as tough as they come.  He once said to me with a dry Yankee twang, "I dunno Eddy...this racing thing is starting to get in the way of my riding!" 

As I was 19 at the time, I thought he was crazy.

I get it now.


  1. X-c skiing is the perfect sport, even beats cycling in every way but except town line sprints. Think about it:
    no injuries,
    freshest air,
    killer scenary (Bretton Woods)
    workout for every muscle,
    can be very low tech and budget,
    you can do it with your kids, with me, or with Zoetemelk,
    at any age,
    Disagree on skating vs. classical, but it is a subject of another post.
    On the age thing, dono about Robye, but CCB has Billy and Neal both are over 70 on a 8K mi/year regiment and I cannot touch either.
    I drove the car following New Years ride, but Billy went for 60 with the fast group. I mean fast! There were cat 2s there.

  2. Is that a young Paul Sherwen in the middle at the front?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Time tested, old school early season training advice

Benotto dreams...

Lost races of the Northeast: Le Tour de la Gaspésie